January 29, 1852



Jan 29th Thursday  Mrs Witherell Oliver 3rd & Fred & George went

to Bridgewater this morning for Mrs Witherells temporary

set of teeth.  Father & Mrs S Ames & Emily here to dine

Mrs S Ames came about half past eleven and spent

the rest of the day.  Have written a letter to Harriet

Ames [of] Burlington.  Went after mother in a sleigh to night

Augustus & wife spent the evening Three evenings this week


Sarah Ames Witherell traveled to Bridgewater today to pick up a “temporary set of teeth” to replace the real ones that had been pulled out earlier this month. It turned out that they weren’t ready, so she had to return home without them. As before, she was accompanied by several family members including her son George Oliver Witherell and two of her nephews, first cousins and good friends Oliver (3) and Frederick Lothrop Ames, who were still home on a recess from college.

Evelina, meanwhile, fed midday dinner to all the family members who stayed behind in Easton.  Sarah’s daughter, Emily, didn’t go with her mother this time; unlike Oliver and Fred, she and Susie Ames may well have been back in school. Evelina may have been feeling the strain of so much company.  She notes that her nephew Augustus and his wife, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, had come to call “Three evenings this week.” Augustus, who did a lot of work for Oakes and Oliver Jr., often made himself at home at the Ames’s.

Harriet Ames of Burlington, Vermont, to whom Evelina wrote today, was a spinster cousin. Her mother was the widow of Old Oliver’s brother, John.*

*not the same John Ames who manufactured paper in Springfield

October 26, 1851



Sunday Oct 26.  John Ames from Springfield is here at

fathers came last night.  We have all been

to meeting  Mr Whitwell preached two

excellent sermons.  Went at intermission

into Mr John R Howards with Mother and several

others  The first time I have called since

they moved.  It has rained since eleven this

morning, quite hard.

For the first time since September 21, Evelina attended church; even the “hard” rain couldn’t keep her away. She surely was pleased to be back in the family pew, head tilted up to listen to Reverend Whitwell’s “excellent” sermons, happy to visit with friends and acquaintances at intermission. The opportunity to congregate at church was central to Evelina’s social life, and she was quick to catch up.  Her visit at intermission with John and Caroline Howard was her first visit to their new home.

A cousin from Springfield, John Ames, was visiting in the other part of the house. There were several relatives named John Ames with close ties to Old Oliver, including his father and a brother. This John Ames was, most likely, a nephew of Old Oliver, the son of Old Oliver’s much older brother David. His dates were 1800-1890. He was famous for certain inventions pertaining to the manufacture of paper and with a brother, also named David, ran the Ames Paper Company in Springfield. According to one 20th century historian, “[f]rom the outset the firm, which became known as D. and J. Ames, prospered wonderfully, making money rapidly and growing until it was one of the largest and most powerful in the country.”**

A life-long bachelor, John Ames lived with a sister, Mary, and the two managed the family farm well into their old age. Oliver Jr. writes of visiting them in Springfield in 1871. The families stayed in touch.Yet Old Oliver made no mention of his nephew’s visit.  Instead, in his journal, he noted only that “it was cloudy all day to day + raind some in the day time + in the evening + night ther was considerable.” He was more interested in the rain which, given the fact that rain meant more water and more water meant more power for the factory, was perhaps understandable.

Image courtesy Benjamin L. Clark, Massachusetts Book Trade

**Lyman Horace Weeks, The History of Paper-manufacturing in the United States, 1690-1916, New York, 1916, p. 125

August 4, 1851


[No entry]

Evelina made no entry today in her diary, for reasons we’ll never know.  Too hot? Too cross? Too busy? Too much laundry? We can only guess.

Instead of commentary, we’ve posted an image of the Ames family tree familiar to many Ames descendants, especially those who own copies of Winthrop Ames’s 1937 family history, The Ames Family of Easton, which includes a fold-out version of this illustration.  The tree features the lineage of the two Ames brothers who stayed in North Easton: Oakes and Oliver Jr., but doesn’t include the other sons and daughters of Old Oliver and Susannah who also produced issue: Horatio, William Leonard, Sarah Witherell and Harriett Mitchell.

Some readers have asked for clarification on who was who within the family. What follows is a list of the children and grandchildren of Old Oliver and Susannah.  More information about this group and their descendants can be found in a detailed family geneaology produced by William Motley Ames and Chilton Mosely Ames in the late 1980s.

Old Oliver and Susannah’s children and their children in birth order:

Oakes Ames and Evelina Gilmore Ames had five children:

Oakes Angier, Oliver (3), Frank Morton, Henry Gilmore (d. young) and Susan Eveline Ames

Horatio Ames and Sally Hewes Ames had three children:

Susan Angier, Horatio Jr., and Gustavus Ames

Oliver Jr. and Sarah Lothrop Ames had two children:

Frederick Lothrop and Helen Angier Ames

William Leonard Ames and Amelia Hall Ames had seven children:

William Leonard Jr., Angier, Oliver, John Hall, Amelia Hall, Fisher, and Herbert M. Ames

William Leonard Ames and Anna Pratt Hines had one child:

Oakes Keene Ames

Sarah Angier Ames and Nathaniel Witherell, Jr. had three children:

George Oliver, Sarah Emily, and Channing Witherell (d. young)

Harriett Ames and Asa Mitchell had three children:

Frank Ames, John Ames, and Anna Mitchell

Two other children of Old Oliver and Susannah, Angier Ames and John Ames, died without issue.

April 18, 1851


U.S. Three Cent George Washington stamp, 1851


April 18  Friday  I have made up the bed new in the 

parlour chamber and got the room in pretty

good order have not got to clean it this spring

I have been choring about house most all 

day about four Oclock  went into

the other part of the house & took the stockings

with me to mend  Not at all pleasant

Spring was the season for choring, choring, choring. Until she went to sit and mend stockings with Sarah Witherell, Evelina worked around the house all day.  The bad weather of the past several days continued.

The Ameses kept a bed in their parlor.  This seems strange to us, but it was customary at the time, or had been.  The practice was waning, as bigger, Victorian houses became the style and the older Colonial and Federal floor plans were abandoned.  Once upon a time, however, a downstairs parlor served multiple purposes.  We know it as the spot in the house where more formal visitors were welcomed. In the 18th and into the 19th century, the parlor was also where the master and mistress of the house might sleep, while children went upstairs to colder quarters. As the family became more affluent and rooms got reconfigured, the bed in the parlor accommodated overnight guests.  Several weeks back, in fact, inclement weather had forced William and Eliza Whitwell to stay over; they may have stayed in the very parlor that Evelina put “in pretty good order” today. Same with Evelina’s mother when she came to visit.

Many Ameses celebrated their birthdays in the month of April.  Today was another family birthday, that of John Ames 2d, the youngest son of Old Oliver and Susannah, who was born on this date in 1817. He was never in robust health, never married and succumbed to lung disease at age 27.  Before his death, however, he served as the very first postmaster of North Easton, then a new outpost between two larger post offices elsewhere in Easton proper. According to historian William Chaffin, young John Ames’s “office” consisted of “a large box with a cover […] set upon a post” with “mail (at least newspapers and heavy mail)” that was “put into and taken from this box by the drivers of the passing mail-coaches.”  This newest post office was needed for the increasing amount of mail coming in and out of the shovel factory.  With his health too poor to work in the factory itself, at least John had a role in managing the post.

January 10, 1851



Jan 10th Friday.  Have been baking most all day  Heat

the oven three times.  It rained very hard last night

and carried off most all the snow and it is very wet

and sloppy.  Margaret Keighan here to see Jane.

This is Mr Ames & Mr Whitwells birth day  both

of the same age 47 years.  Have been expecting Mr & Mrs

Whitwell here this afternoon and as they did not come

would have rode there this evening but Mr Ames is engaged

If Evelina and Oakes had been able to visit the Whitwells tonight, they would have had to take the carriage rather than the sleigh because of recent heavy rain.  According to Old Oliver, the sudden wet and warm weather has “took the snow of[f] so much that it spoilt the slaying.”  Evelina, meanwhile, was so tied to the brick oven all day, baking mince meat pies and such , that she had a right to be a little disappointed not to go out this evening.

The Ames family, Puritan stock that they are, don’t overly celebrate anyone’s birthday.  Yet Evelina notes the shared birthday of her husband and the minister.  Oakes Ames was born in North Easton on this day in 1804.  He was the first child of an eventual eight to be born to Oliver Ames and Susannah Angier Ames.  The others to follow would be Horatio, Oliver Jr., Angier (d. in infancy) William Leonard, Sarah, John and Harriett.

Besides Oakes, Oliver Jr. and Sarah are the only siblings who still live in North Easton in 1851.  Except for a stint away at school, Oliver Jr. never moved away.  He and his wife live next door.  Sarah, on the other hand, left for New York in 1836 when she married Nathaniel Witherell, Jr.  Now a widow, she returned to North Easton in the late 1840s and moved back into the old homestead to care for her father after the death of her mother in 1847.

The absentee siblings are away but never forgotten; among the brothers, especially, business deals are ongoing.  Horatio, the black sheep of the clan, lives in Connecticut and runs a forge.  William Leonard had been in New York City and Albany, working as a merchant who sold, among other items, Ames shovels.  When those enterprises failed, he switched to managing a blast furnace, in keeping with the family talent for manufacturing.  But this proved unprofitable, too. By 1851, William Leonard was making his way as a cattleman on the Minnesota frontier.  John, who had also moved to New York City, died in 1844 of a chronic lung ailment.  Harriett is married to a man from Bridgewater named Asa Mitchell, and at this time lives in western Pennsylvania.

As a boy, Oakes moved with his parents to Plymouth while his father worked at various manufacturing efforts, although shovel making predominated.  The family moved back to North Easton in 1813, after the conclusion of the War of 1812, whereupon Old Oliver threw himself into the manufacture of shovels. After that, the family stayed put.